Harry defies the Laws of Existence, and makes a few new ones on his path.
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Squeezing through a tube, being pulled through space in the blink of an eye, apparently couldn’t account for falling in mid transport. Magic treated the abrupt transformation like a portal – motion followed. Momentum carried. There was a process to apparition for normal wizards – twisting into the nonexistence (in fact, it could be argued that apparition gives you a brief look into another dimension altogether, and humans are just too slow to witness it, but that was neither here nor there) – so recorded history never showed what happened during airborne apparition, though with splinching always an over-looming threat to even the most powerful, concentration was key. Harry found that he didn’t need to be on the ground to twist, on the school roof so many years ago.
He also remembered how much it bloody hurt when he did it, too. He still fell off a roof, and while the momentum hadn’t gained yet, he landed hard on the edge of the roof. That was how he stumbled and fell off the roof again. The momentum of following through space carried even through the displacement, and Harry could describe the sensation as ‘incidentally stepping off an awkwardly high stair step, at best.’ It wasn’t a feeling his legs could prepare for, so he had to compensate for Newton’s first law of motion.
At least, that was his speculation.
Harley, however, was not privy to those thoughts and theories, and so, let out a shriek as she saw the ground, fifteen feet below her.
Wincing, Harry quickly caught her as they popped into being in Selina’s old safe house. He rolled her body with his own, his back rushing to the ground. He didn’t have the foresight to use a cushioning charm, instead trusting his natural protection spells, but the wires had a synchronization with his instincts that made it both a danger and a, quite literally, safety net.
The web was being spun even as Harry braced himself for the inevitable crash to the wood floor. His magic, in a sense, worked much like Pamela’s vines, always looking out for the host, before they even knew they needed the help.
The net slowly retreated into his wrists as his feet lowered to the ground, gently putting down Harley as he did so. He was grateful for the subconscious helping hand – he needed it. “That was… odd. I don’t think I’ve ever done it that way before. Not since the school roof.”
“You’re tellin’ me,” she groaned, holding her head. “And to think that one time, I imagined going to Italy with that. I don’t think I like travelling that way.”
Harry pinched the bridge of his nose, more out of avoiding the inevitable pop about to form in his ears than anything – before replying. “I personally prefer flying brooms, myself.” He focused on the communication bud in his ear. “We’re at Selena’s old place. It’s the only secondary place I’ve been to that isn’t swarming with cops right now. Is Crane okay?”
He could hear the relief in Selina’s voice. “I wouldn’t know; I haven’t seen him on any of the cameras since he left the control room. Not that it matters now; the control room is gone, as you well know.”
Harley wobbled her head, shaking off all of her tension. “We can’t afford to break him out again. I wasn’t expecting the plan to go like this.” Her tension was not yet gone, as indicated by her fist smashing into the nearby wall. “When the fuck does Batman show up during the day?” she complained, growling at the hole she left. “Zatanna definitely wasn’t supposed to be here. With a fucking sidekick, no less! And you have a friggin’ ulcer in your brain!”
Harry held up a hand to the right side of his forehead, covering it tenderly. “I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Hermione. It was a different kind of pain. I can’t really explain it. It’s like… when Hermione is pissed, I can feel it from where my scar was. It’s a headache, but… I don’t know, it’s a searing pain across my forehead, and it gives off heat.”
“Don’t remind me.” She remembered all too well the burn that she received from just touching his forehead.
“My forehead is warm at best, right now,” he continued. “That’s not supposed to happen. And the pain is usually sudden, goes faster than it comes up. Right now, it’s fading, but it’s still uncomfortable. I… think it’s a proximity thing. One of them is causing it.”
Harleen Quinzel had heard a lot of things in her life – many of them scarcely believed, and while some had called her bluff, she just absolutely couldn’t understand what exactly he was saying to her. “Wait, wait, wait, wait, hold the hell on – are you trying to say that you have a headache? An honest to God common human headache?”
That gave Harry pause. “Er… possibly? I wouldn’t know what one felt like. I’ve been feeling pain where my scar was all my life. I could always pinpoint the pain, and it was always there.” His hand shifted to the back of his head, and he rubbed it awkwardly. It was sort of embarrassing, he had to admit. He had a lot of things in his mokeskin pouch – a few vials of polyjuice, that Harley had used and executed to perfection, and several trinkets that could surely be of use in the future, but nothing for the common headache.
Not magical in the slightest, but easily recognizing the symptoms, she began to feel one coming on. “Have you, by any chance, ever heard of escalated returns?”
Harry turned to her, slipping his hand off his forehead and down to the metal wire that still consumed his other hand, feeling it ripple beneath his fingers. “No.”
He shouldn’t, it was a term she had just made up, and she was sure that there was a proper term for it somewhere, but she was training to be a doctor, not a theorist. “It’s the idea that… how do I put this? It’s the idea of something big happening, before a brief respite, and then something bigger comes along to eclipse the previous happening. Much like your life. It’s like the Chaos theory on steroids, where instead of a little change to a volatile situation can go out of control – because I’m not gonna lie, you coming here, to Gotham, to this world, changed a lot of things, damn near everything – but it’s not out of control – it’s just a new, bigger, organized challenge. And it’s so fucking timely. It’s like the opposite of diminishing returns. Instead of the approaching calm – ”
“You get the storm,” Harry finished for her, smiling sadly. He was painfully aware of the concept. “Now that you mention it, it sounds familiar. And there’s a bigger one every single time. It never plateaus. Anything that makes you feel like the calm never happened, and won’t happen again.”
“I mean, it’s possible. I’m apparently in a comic book, so I’ll take anything, but all this…” she looked around the empty, dingy establishment, “it doesn’t seem to want to let up. Frankly, this is the most excitement we’ve had in a few months. You know how to keep us on our toes.”
“You’re blaming me for all of this?” Harry put his forefinger and thumb to his chin and peered down at her. “Last I checked, this is was mostly your plan.”
She shrugged. “I can’t account for the aftermath. And you are the escape plan. We’d all be at home right now if it weren’t for Eddie. Wait, why arewe here, anyway?”
“It was the first place I could think of besides the base. You should always have a fake hideaway in case you’re being followed, or accounting for a tracking device. Constant Vigilance and all that. Besides, I’d be too tempted to leave him behind if we were home, celebrating. He’s… he just gives off a sort of vibe.”
“I know, right!” she exclaimed, so grateful for the implied support that she threw her arms into the air. “It can’t just be me, right? I mean, obviously, Selina’s on my side, but can we agree that his desire to work alone makes us all aspire to embrace his desire to work alone? I mean, we have the towers now.”
“We can’t abandon him, Harley. By the way he seems to hate Batman, the man holds a grudge. And secrets.”
“Oh, I know we can’t abandon him. Of course we make the daring rescue. I just think that after, we part ways with him.”
Harley giggled at Selina’s and Ivy’s verbal support over the coms, and Harry frowned.
He very much believed in the loyalty system, a system that hadn’t wronged him to this day. He had worked with people he didn’t care for, sure, but he needed to have a level of trust to work with them to begin with. He also believed in the opposite. As long as they remained loyal, and he to them, he felt that they could be of immense use.
Severus Snape, for instance. He trusted the man implicitly. Granted, it had almost everything to do with the life debt earned by his father, passed on to him after the ultimate act of treachery by way of sharing the prophecy with his former master. Snape’s magic was forever compelled to follow the son of James Potter to the grave, if asked, and Harry hadn’t had a reason to regret the forced union. Loyalty meant everything. If it was betrayed, then it could never come back.
Which was why he was just itching to have a certain annoying redhead in his grasp. Being pranked by his brothers could only appease Harry so much, but Ron was going to have to answer to him when he made his return. The girls had promised him first blood. Thank goodness Hermione was otherwise distracted, or she would not have held such promises.
Loyalty, to Harry, meant everything.
And if they decided to let go of a man who got kidnapped for them, then he would most certainly lose Edward’s loyalty.
He knew the man hadn’t sold them out or their plans – if he had, Harry would have met this mysterious new vigilante by now. It would also inspire a level of trust to expect that he was going to be rescued by his partners. He had been relieved of a fate worse than death by Black Mask, thanks to their meddling in his affairs. Really, he lost his job because of them.
And, as he had stated before, Edward was a vengeful man with a one-track mind. Harry didn’t need someone like the Riddler working for anyone else, or even worse, on his own. He had taken a major asset from a powerful man, and while there were safe assurances that he wouldn’t return to Sionis, He was sure a man that could hijack radio towers and access security cameras around Gotham into the most top secret and exclusive areas… well, it was safe to say that he’d be the hottest free agent in Gotham’s Underworld.
He needed someone like him on his side.
But, to Harleen’s credit, the man was an asshole sometimes. To borrow from the American dialect.
“We need him. He can be invaluable. He doesn’t have to live in our main base; we have guest houses in the blueprints. And everything he does is behind the scenes. A few protection spells around his workbench, and he won’t be a problem next time.” Harley didn’t seem convinced. “He’s the reason we have cameras to Blackgate, and traffic cameras. I’d rather have him working for us, and knowing everything he’s doing, than have him go underground not knowing who’d made him feel dumber; Batman, the new guy, Roman, or us?”
They heard a sigh over the coms. “He did break me out of prison. He got caught himself, and this was an opportunity to make it up to him. Taking it away from him seems… cruel. Say what you want, but the man loves company. He might claim to love working alone, but you’ll never see him happier when he tells you something you don’t know.”
“Don’t we all,” Harley rolled her eyes, leaning against her mallet. “Fine. He can stay. But he needs some serious housetraining.”
“Don’t we all,” Harry repeated. The disaster averted, he focused on the origin. “So… what now? I doubt he’s being taken to Blackgate, or Wayne Manor. He’s worked outside the law, but not to the point where he’s installed torture chambers or terrorist cells.”
“Perhaps the newest kid is taking him to his own place?” Selina reasoned. “I mean, they’re probably not going to his house. But maybe somewhere abandoned? A home away from home, until the trouble is over?”
“For all we know, he could be tied up in his supercar,” Harley pointed out. “His jet probably got him to Blackgate. The new hero is almost definitely keeping an eye on him. No matter how tied up they think he is, they would never leave him unsupervised. So that’s good news on the one side. We’re taking on enough as it is.”
“They seem to be in high demand right now – Heroes, I mean. Do you think that’s all of them in Gotham?”
Harley considered the question her boyfriend just posed to her. While she had only been in the crime game for a year, she had seen a lot, and researched a lot in response. “In Gotham, specifically? I think so. Let’s do a role call: we’ve got the Night Vigilante who, for some reason, decided to put on his sunglasses and pretend that the moon is out for a day. We’ve got the travelling Magician, who made the choice to show up earlier than her scheduled appointment. We got her mysterious partner, who doesn’t even have a corporeal form from what I’ve seen – or not seen. And we have another vigilante, who looks pretty much human by Selina’s description, but has already proven himself to be a pain in the ass by kidnapping Riddler, and no, the irony has not escaped me.”
“Let’s just hope the surrounding cities aren’t having slow days, because we don’t want their heroes getting curious.”
Harry pinched the bridge of his nose at Ivy’s pseudo-prayer. “You really shouldn’t have said that.”
Harley rose an eyebrow. “Why? Afraid it’s gonna happen?”
“No… just… more accepting that it will.” The metallic tendrils began to coil around his body once more. “Escalated Returns, remember? We have a different saying in my world.”
“Hm? What’s that?”
“If it can go wrong, it will.” She frowned. “I didn’t mean it like that. I only mean that there can be bad times, and good times. I mean, it usually feels worse when it’s happening, but that makes the next calm all the better, right?”
“True.” Harry stretched out his fingers, and jumped in place for a moment. “It’s a more positive interpretation than I’m used to, but at least it’s not Potter’s Law.”
She knew that he knew that she needed to ask. “Okay, I’ll bite. What the hell is Potter’s Law?”
“Always expect the worst to happen.” The web of microwires covered his face, now. His piercing green eyes began to glow through the holes, and a chill went down her spine. “And prepare for exceeded expectations.”
“… I wouldn’t want a quote like that named after me.”
“I didn’t say it was my law. It was my dad’s. Coined by my mum. Probably during one of the times they faced Voldemort. I’d say they earned that law.”
She gathered the mallet into her hands and stepped closer to him. “Then let’s turn Potter’s Law into a hypothesis. I believe we have a couple of witches to send to the gallows. Shall we?”
She couldn’t see the smirk on his face, but she could hear it in his voice. “Harley’s Law,” he scoffed to himself, muttering. “Fuck Reason.”
“You’re Goddamn right.”
Bruce stood in the middle control room, surveying the wreckage.
At the peak of physical health and fitness, he showed no signs of slowing down, not taking a break since yesterday morning.
Rest wasn’t a priority. He knew the limits of his own body, better than most people knew their own limits. He could time it down to the minute. And while he had adrenaline shots, a serum of his own concoction, in his belt, he wouldn’t be needing them today. That was only for fights that he knew he couldn’t win. And right now he needed every bit of his brain power for this, and adrenaline could only help for ten minutes, before slowing him down significantly.
He honestly didn’t know if Alfred was on the other end of the connection, but he spoke anyway, if only for his own recording purposes. “The control room was destroyed. The floor has recently been turned on. Ivy’s gas is everywhere.” That was from a first glimpse. His eyes began to glow an eerie white as his mask began to analyse the room. “I need to scan the poison for an antidote.”
Her gas mutates. He knew that. But if he could somehow find the compound that made the gas mutate, then he’d be able to make an antidote that made the evolution at the same pace as the toxin. A living cure to her living poison. She’d be neutralized before she could even become a threat. Only then, could he help those officers, trapped in her web of vines. On his latest scan this morning, they were all alive and healthy, and suspiciously so. He knew there wasn’t a chance of getting them out without hurting them in the process.
But even doing that, if it was possible, would only solve a third of the problem.
There was no cure for a massive hammer to the face, or a boundary to what magic could do.
He looked at the control room box again, and examined the cables closely. The sturdy steel cables, newly installed, all gave out at the same time. There were no outside contaminants, chemicals, or reason for them to give out.
It had to be magic. Something pulled them down at such an unbelievable speed and harshness, it couldn’t have been anything else.
But the prisoners were released. The Warlock had to have gone there to open the cells. Why would he destroy the room? To ensure that no one could close the cells back? To make a statement?
Because he just wanted to?
A quick scan of the room showed footprints. A lot of them. But he had managed to isolate the more peculiar tracks. One set showed traces of an alloy that was in Julian Day’s metal boot, who was currently unconscious in the corner, a result of overexposure to the electric floors. The other was a set of heels. Thin heeled pumps.
While it very well could have come from a prisoner, male or female, he doubted it could have been worn during a riot and breakout. Besides, the make and model of the heels, based on the prints, were new, and expensive. Not an employee of the state, and definitely not contraband, unless from a kingpin, and if they cared so much about their inmate, they would have attempted a more focused, singular breakout instead.
So not Black Mask, or Penguin. Ergo, not a prisoner.
She was here. Or, had just left.
And she had found The Warlock and tried to trap him in the control room.
He considered seeing what else he could find, but he knew what he was dealing with. When logic was thrown out the window, all he could rely on was his instincts.
For now, he had to worry about Zatanna, and work on the prisoners. There was no place to put them, and they needed to be contained. He would have to find her and see if she could fix this mess.
And then – of course – the Warlock.
“Why do I feel like all of this is a trap?” Zatanna wondered, her hands whisking through the air, using rudimentary magic that didn’t require her having to speak backwards. “I mean, they have to know that they weren’t getting far from Blackgate, right? There has to be something afoot.”
“Doesn’t matter,” Raven reminded her, finally taking form next to her. “They have to be put back. If this is a distraction, it’s working. This is priority. Everything else can wait.”
One by one, the prisoners fell, their orange jumpsuits serving their purpose as target markers. The Batman had only gone through them, mostly evading. Apparently, he had appointed her as cleanup duty.
She grimaced, lifting a particularly large man and dropping him on his head. “I don’t see how this is our problem.”
“It isn’t. I’m just as annoyed at this as you are. But I don’t like the idea of these assholes roaming free.” A black net spun into existence and covered a decent group of huddled inmates, and began guiding them towards shipping containers she had ‘liberated’ from the docks. “If any of you try to fight it, I’ll shake this damn thing!”
The two stood side-by-side, leaning over the edge of the prison cells. It was much easier to survey the damage and clean up from the skies, rather than running through the muck of the chaos down there.
They still hadn’t seen the caped crusader yet, but judging by the unconscious bodies they had nothing to do with, they assumed he was already inside. He’d be disappointed to find no Warlock, and no Harley. Almost made them even.
“You’re right, of course.” With a flick of her wrist, the opening of the trailer caved into itself when it reached capacity. “We may be trapping them, but I feel like a pawn.”
If there was anything that Zatanna could credit herself for teaching the half-demon, it was that she should always second-guess her instincts. But always follow them if logic agreed. “Let’s finish this up, then go after Warlock and Harley.”
Again, she was very aware that she was out of her element. Even she knew the power she held was limited.
But she found herself very interested in the source of his power. Unless he was a demon-hybrid himself, or sold himself to one, a power of that magnitude – or at least the hype that he was submerged in before she even met him – had to have a source, or a mystical object that tied to him.
She had to have it. Then, just maybe, she would be even with Bruce for getting them both involved in this mess.
Raven, beside her, only huffed. “They’ll find us before we find them.”
“That was… ominous. Why do you say that?”
“I sense him. Or at least, his presence. I sensed him the moment we came to Gotham. The fact that I can’t right now, means that he’s hidden it. I don’t mean that he suppressed it – it’s gone. You can’t suppress a power like that. Either he transformed to something – normal – or he’s got a level of control that meditating from birth can’t compare to. If it was something as simple as taking a ring off a finger, then I would still be able to sense the ring.”
“You make it sound like it’s hopeless. Please don’t make it sound like it’s hopeless.”
The dusky girl grimaced. “If it was hopeless, I wouldn’t be here. We’ll be ready when they come to us.”
“Oh. Then should I come back later?”
Both women twisted around to suddenly see the man that had caused so much trouble in Gotham City, leaning over the ledge of the roof on the next building, staring them down like it was something he had been trained his whole life to do. It was an imperious stare, arrogance bleeding from his eyes, his arms crossed over his raised knee giving him a cultured, relaxed posture.
The young magi knew she didn’t like him. Not one bit.
However, the half-demon’s eyes – all four of the red, glowing slits of her vision – glazed over the second he had her attention. His eyes were on Zatanna, not even on her at the moment, but she knew he did something to her – something crippling.
And just as soon as the thought came to her, her vision returned. She blinked the pain away, not even having enough time to signal her friend, or cry out. It was just… gone.
What the hell just happened?
Harry flinched, and grimaced, his eyes still on the sorceress. He was leaning on the edge of the roof for balance, not for their benefit. It was something Harley recommended, and he might have fallen over if he wasn’t leaning on his knee. There wasn’t a real chance of falling over the edge in this position, for his other foot was firmly in the gravel.
A slight sticking charm helped. He really didn’t trust himself or his balance at the moment.
Zatanna showed no signs of attacking him, or even knowing that he was there to begin with, so it couldn’t have been her that was doing this to him, so he was hesitant of her involvement. His eyes shifted to the right.
The floating girl under the purple hood showed no emotion; try as he might, her pale lavender face was stoic, even as he saw through the shadow.
The redness in her eyes, however, not to mention the fact that there were two pairs, was a handy giveaway, however.
There were no irises. No pupils. Just a faint, red glow coming out in slits. That, combined with her unnatural color and paleness, sent a shiver down his spine that could have rocked the building he was standing on if he wasn’t in control of his magic.
But it was impossible. It needed to be impossible.
She lowered herself to the ground, taking a firm place next to her friend, and raised her hand, very slowly and deliberately. “This is your last chance. Turn yourself in.”
This was all wrong. He needed to think. “We both know that’s not happening.”
It was Zatanna that spoke up. “So you’re the Warlock, huh? I expected you to be taller.”
Flirtatious comebacks had been his ideal play. Banter was what he had always been good at, having had to hold regular conversations with world leaders, influential powers, a Dark Lord (though the banter had been far less flirtatious), Veela, a Seer who could see every line he could ever tell and had ever told, the cleverest witch of her time, one who had unfettered access to his mind, And, sometimes, people he needed information from, among other things, by taking on another identity. He liked to think that was how he got to Harley’s and Ivy’s heart, and according to Luna’s vision, Selina’s eventually.
Harry much favoured talking to his opponent, more than actually fighting them, but he excelled at both. He just preferred that sometimes, confrontations could be solved in a simpler, less violent way.
He was still the prophesized saviour, after all. He had a lot of enemies, and if he went to fighting as a first option, he’d have to hospitalize half the Slytherin house on a good day.
From how he had tried to sway Batman from his instinct of ‘punch until we both agree on something,’ and everyone else he had faced in Gotham so far, he thought he had done a decent job.
Well, he hadn’t killed anyone, at least. Subtlety was key in his line of work, and in his way of life.
“I’m not exactly impressed, either.”
Being charming was over. Now was not the time for charming.
Zatanna tilted her head. She didn’t know what to expect from this unfamiliar enemy, but she did expect, at the very least, a connection among mages. “What?” she simpered, leaning forward. “Not pretty enough as your two partners in crime?”
Harry knew the woman was beautiful, and she used it as a legitimate weapon, much like the other women he had met. And as mentioned before, he would never truly get used to the staggering beauty he was continuously surrounded by.
“I’ve lost my manners; my apologies. Let me fix that.”
He raised his hands, and they didn’t notice until the moment passed, but his hands were absent of any metal – his bare hands tilted towards them in a claw, barely calloused fingers reaching out, grasping for their very souls – and the cold wind that suddenly rushed past them almost made it feel like he had taken them.
Both sorceresses had a spell on their lips, before his hand formed a fist, and he swiftly raised it.
Zatanna cleared her throat. Or, at least she tried to. She tried again.
Then she took a breath. Or tried to.
She grasped at her throat, her eyes bugged, and stared up at the Warlock with surprise. One hand reached out, grasping for her floating friend to get her attention, but it was no use.
Raven was looking at her for help as well, and seeing that she was in the same boat, focused all her energy on her shield, grasping at her own neck, and the glowing black pulse tugged at the invisible force like a collar, breathing like she was doing it for the first time all over again, gasping like a guppy.
Her vision blurry, Zatanna looked back at Warlock once more, only to find him standing directly in front of her. She didn’t know when she had collapsed, but she had, and she had to crawl to reach him, to swing at him, to distract him from choking her.
She couldn’t breathe. He wasn’t choking her. She just lost the ability to breathe. She didn’t know there was a spell that could even do that, and he had done it with silly fucking hand motions.
She reared back, and launched her fist at his face, her body following in a lunge towards him.
A gasp of air rushed back in her body, and she found herself stumbling and tripping past him, barely hearing the word ‘Incarcerous’ and a gentle hand poking in her back that sent her to the ground again.
The landing was softer than she expected. But she was knocked out already, so it really didn’t matter.
And then he was in front of Raven. “What the hell are you?”
That took about fifteen seconds, and it worked far better than he had imagined.
Harley hadn’t told him much about Zatanna, but from his and her observations, her magic came from her words.
Magic tended to be rather oblique and obvious, so when he saw that she didn’t wear a choker, and there was no special signature on her slender neck, then he could safely guess that her vocal chords were unprotected. She must not have been used to other magicals.
Harry however, came from a world where there were wizards who knew that if their voice was gone, then so was their power. They would have been lucky to let off a disarming spell. Until he had arrived, everyone had assumed that their wand was the most important source of their power, but they came hand in hand if they weren’t good at silent casting. Sadly, it was almost as rare as wandless casting. You either needed both, or preferred neither. In his world, anyway.
The hand motions were from a set of movies Hermione had introduced him to last summer, and he had liberated them for his own purposes. The film wouldn’t come out in another ten years, anyway, so it wouldn’t hurt.
He tried not to think of the list Hermione had made during the movies on the similarities in their own lives. Some even downright disturbing, and somewhat incestuous, and he was still thinking about it. Right.
Harry wasn’t risking if her neck was protected or not. As the old adage said, go straight for the throat, and he did, with biologically accurate efficiency. There was no pressure on her trachea, he simply blocked the airways. Not only was it more humane than listening to someone’s screams, but he felt that it was helpful to learn from old mistakes. The first time he tried time dilation, that he had done with Ivy and Harley that very morning, his victims couldn’t breathe, because everything was frozen except their own bodies. They were frozen, but he didn’t consider going further than skin-deep. This, however, was improved, focused, and specific.
He could shut down the entire respiratory system if he wanted to. And most times, that thought scared him. So he used that skill cautiously.
He ended it as soon as he got over to her, and it happened to coincide with the attempted punch.
She was too close to put up a shield in front of him, and at the rate she was going, she would have shattered her fist. Contrary to what they thought, he didn’t wish them too much harm.
Fear, however, was fair game.
Her lungs were suddenly, quickly filled with air from an involuntary action, something that just felt right to do since she was born, and the gasping suction was her undoing, in a way. Her mind had access to oxygen again, and the light-headedness that could only come with the head rush of jumping as abruptly as she could., made her dizzy enough to take advantage.
He side-stepped her, and pressed three fingers against her back with a muttered spell. Before she could register it, she was bound in ropes, tumbling to the ground.
One finger for the ropes, another for the cushioning spell on the ropes. The last was a safety measure.
Harry didn’t have the time to rummage around his mokeskin pouch for spell-o-tape, so he settled for the Silencio spell; just in case.
Raven, however, was a different story. He only needed to distract her. He had no idea what she was capable of, but he knew that the only reason she wasn’t attacking him was for two reasons: one, she was distracted by the more traditional act of being choked, a ring of power wrapping around her throat, something tangible, something she could try to throw off because that could be pinpointed.
And two, and this much was rather obvious from the minute or so of observing them before his interruption: she clearly didn’t know what she was capable of.
She was young, of course. She didn’t carry the sophisticated refinement that Harleen manipulated with ease. She didn’t exactly convey a look of playfulness, either. She was pretty, he couldn’t deny that. But Harry saw the raw power in her, something he hadn’t seen since himself and Hermione, a very long time ago.
She had been tested, but never to a discipline that she couldn’t handle, never to a point where it was only herself or her death.
“I ask again,” he muttered, tightening the hold on her neck until it indented her skin, “what the hell do you think you are?”
The eyes that peered back at him through the darkness – all of them – held nothing but contempt. Her fingers gripped the edges of the band, the black glow he associated with her magic being the only thing that made the force visible. She pulled at it mightily and she felt it was beginning to budge. “I am a Titan.”
“Small girl to be considered ‘Titan’. But that’s not what you are.” Surface memories flitted through his mind: a beautiful redhead and her equally attractive ebony-haired sister, their hands aglow just like their purple partner, sparring in battle, more intensely than sisters should ever be: the showman behind him, dazzling her crowd with her magically enhanced parlour tricks: a star-studded statuesque woman, her beauty enhanced by her fierce need for competition and justice…
… and a blonde, a stunning girl, who held a sharp resemblance to Harleen, but noticeably taller. Her innocent smile and self-assured confidence made his heart skip a beat, like Harleen did to him. She felt so familiar, and yet, completely foreign. It troubled him. And somehow, it also delighted him.
These were what consisted of the Titans, according to Raven. Bruce’s memories gave him two names, and he was sure he could be filled in on them sooner or later. Probably sooner.
But that was not what he was looking for. A shield glimmered into place in front of him, a wall of a force he knew she couldn’t break, try as she might. “So we’re not as uncommon as I’ve been led to believe. So you’re an alien?”
She had blocked him out, mentally. The force was draining at her power, so she began kicking in the air to somehow boost herself into breaking the ring off of her. Her ethereal voice, a voice that wasn’t connected to her mortal body, spoke around him. “You fool. I am a Titan. Now release me!”
Harry’s eyes began to harden. “If you don’t tell me what the fuck you’re doing to my head, I’ll kill you. I don’t want to, but I will.”
The pain was piercing, and Harry was getting agitated. This was what always happened before… and he couldn’t do anything then. His anger only grew and grew, and Occlumency suppressed it, but he had found the source this time. He could end it.
The pain spiked, and Harry winced, before he blinked in confusion. Slowly, he reached for the tears in his eyes. He could feel them, he could feel the pain of having them, the humiliation. He looked at his fingertips and found them dry.
He wasn’t crying, so why did it feel so much like he was? He checked his eyes again, before eyeing his captive once again.
Raven’s tears were not streaming down her cheeks. Not a single drop rolled down any of her eyes. But through the darkness, he could see that they were closed. Strained.
With a heavy sigh, and a heavy feeling that he would regret whatever came next, he lifted the spell. And he waited.
It took a few seconds for any reaction. Two very normal, human eyes greeted him as her hood fell back, and she fell forwards to the ground. He quickly caught her with a levitation charm, and the shield was dismantled.
His headache was barely a phantom by the time he noticed it was fading. He looked at Raven, then turned his head behind him to Zatanna, still captive. “Jesus…” he muttered to himself, seeing the situation he was in. It wasn’t like Merlin was listening in this world.
His headache actually was a phantom. He had gotten into Raven’s head. Or, more specifically, her head had gotten into his.
Intentional or not, he felt the pain that she felt. A blinding, debilitating pain. Only it wasn’t her throat, it was barely choking her, compared to her blonde friend’s playful headlocks.
No, it was her head. She had a headache of massive proportions. Very similar to his.
So at this point, Harry knew he should stop calling it a headache. Because it was clearly anything but.
Gently, he laid her next to her crime-fighting partner. She was out – her pulse and breathing confirmed it – and he was now alone.
He didn’t expect it to happen this way, but hell, it did, and now he had to deal with his actions. Starting with getting his question answered.
With nary a thought, the sorceress known as Zatanna was gone, leaving only him and Raven.
“Harley – I just sent you Zatanna. Just… put her in the corner until we settle all of this.”
“The bunny is in the hat. I repeat: the witch has been hunted.” There was a pause. “Any chance of those naked pics we were talking about earlier?”
“I’d rather she be more awake. And willing.”
“Suit yourself. She might be into the kinkier stuff, though, you never know.”
“How’s Ivy doing down below?”
“She’s gotten open the trailers, and are now dealing with the police cars. It’s pretty funny actually; She’s set up a wall to let the prisoners pass through at random openings, and the police just aren’t fast enough to get to them. You’re really good at distracting them. Or really bad, I can’t tell.”
“Not how I expected to distract these two, but I’ll mark it as a victory for the team.” He turned his full attention to the more powerful of the two. “I’ll send Raven in a minute. I need her to answer my question.”
He took note of the delayed response. “Okay. Just don’t… don’t lose your head, alright? I think I know where your head’s going. But look – if she’s some second coming, or first coming, or some reincarnation of Voldemort, would she really be a good girl?”
Harry had considered it, of course. “Tom started off convincing everyone he was a good guy.”
“Yeah, but he looked human when he did it.”
He was going to argue that she was untrained. He was going to say that she simply didn’t know how to look human, or maybe, somehow, that was all part of the ruse.
But right then, she looked impossibly human to him. The red eyes were gone. The immediate ethereal danger no longer lingered on her frame.
It was a half-and-half effect, and she could suppress the darker half. At the very least, it knew how to go away when her body was too weak to channel it.
“We’ll see,” he agreed. “Thanks for that. Ennervate.”
Violet eyes flickered to life, and was confronted by green, curious ones.
“We need to talk.”
“Where is Zatanna?”
“Somewhere safe. Who are you?”
“I’m a Titan.” The answer was automatic. She still seemed very much pissed at him for what he had done earlier, but he could tell she was holding something back. “Do not harm me. They will hear my cries.”
“You’re too prideful. And I’m a gentleman. That necklace was a size too tight, but you felt restricted. You saw Zatanna fight what you thought was the same thing. You fought for your life against a force that wouldn’t have gotten bigger, or wouldn’t have gotten smaller.”
It killed him to say that. It truly felt like she didn’t fight his power, but everything that happened in front of his eyes contradicted that. Magically, she was exhausted, near-depleted. It wasn’t an act. Her magic didn’t affect his. Not in the slightest.
“You can’t hurt me,” he told her, and cursed himself for the questioning tone. “Your head… it was hurting when I attacked you. You know why. I need to know why.” She could be just as clueless as he was. But if she did know anything, this would have been the perfect time for her to hint at something.
It was different from Hermione, and even different from Voldemort. It was a dampened variation of their connections. He could even feel her emotions. Could she feel his? Could she manipulate his?
No. She couldn’t. Because she wouldn’t have thought about the Titans. She should have been concentrating on what she wanted him to see. She was thinking about her friends instead. When in trouble, happy thoughts.
He let out a frustrated breath, mustering his energy not to kick at the gravel beneath his feet. Young and untested, he had said earlier. His theory was wrong. She didn’t know anything, and he tested her against something she could have never fought. “Sorry, I didn’t know.”
“Zatanna. Return her to me.”
He shook his head, his eyes deflecting away from hers. “Can’t. You took one of mine. But I am sorry.”
He didn’t see her eyes pinch together in scrutiny. “Why?”
“It wasn’t a fair fight. I wanted answers. It felt like you had a drill in my brain.”
“That… wasn’t you.” It was meant to come out as a question. But she wasn’t used to asking questions to confirm. “Something else is doing this.”
“My head doesn’t hurt. I thought it was mine, but it hasn’t bothered me since before I attacked your friend. The rest of it was from you. You felt that pain.” By that point, he had kneeled down, more than a metre away from her, and she sat up, not having the energy to do more than that. “You said it earlier. This isn’t a game. A pain like that could have devastating consequences, and your magic could have lashed out. My magic could have lashed out. I’m not in your head, but if you were in mine, then I don’t know what I could have done if I wasn’t in control.” He truly didn’t. But he knew it wouldn’t be good. Everyone’s magic tended to rebel if the host is threatened.
With shaky legs, she began to stand up or her own two feet. She put on a brave face, but her micro expressions showed her pain clearly enough to Harry. “I didn’t hurt you. And if what you claim is true, then we still have a problem. My head was on fire when you saw me, here and in the prison. But it was gone. Then it came back again when you attacked me.”
That never happened before. He had never projected feelings into another person before. If that could happen, then Voldemort would have been addicted to mind-numbing potions a long time ago.
He was going to kill Hermione for abandoning him like this. She had gone dark, and he had no way of contacting her, except through images, one-way. He didn’t even know if she could feel the headache he felt today.
“Zatanna,” she repeated, and he looked up at her, blinking at how close she had gotten. “Is she safe?”
“You have my word,” he promised her.
“I don’t know the value of your word.”
“Nor do I have the value of yours. Tell me the truth. Who are you, really?”
“I am Raven. I am a Titan.” She would have ended it there. But the words were carried out of her mouth. Stolen. “I was once known as a child of Azarath. I am the daughter of Arella. My powers are not of magic, but it is a curse. I am the unfortunate result of the demonic war god, Trigon.”
Her words were forced, gritted against her teeth, but Harry heard them all the same. She seemed to snap out of it. “What the hell did you do to me?”
“I – ”
He paused, abruptly. Did he do that to her? He knew he had a knack for persuasion, but never to the level she was exaggerating. She certainly looked like she didn’t want to say those words.
Then something she said was peculiar to him. “Wait. Demonic war god?”
She stumbled back, preparing to turn.
“Stop! Demonic Wargod? What does that mean? Is he a demon or a god? Tell me!”
Her legs slowed to a complete stop. She turned to him, and her eyes began to glow again. Again, she began to speak, even when he was absolutely positive she didn’t want to. “He is both! He’s a god and a demon! He is the devil! He is death and darkness incarnate!”
Bloody fucking hell.
“Go,” he said, and she stumbled into motion.
She looked back at him, and he knew that fear was something she was no stranger to.
Because she looked at him with such hatred, her power rising in her small figure, that she would rather die than to know what could happen next.
“Stop,” he commanded once again, and only then, when he understood the full extent of his power, did he feel like a piece of shit from such a simple word. “Calm down. Don’t be angry. I can explain. It’s not my fault.”
“You have ten seconds.” She took his words to heart. Harry shuddered at the thought. He could even control her emotions.
“I’m not from this world. But in my world, We don’t have… demons. We have Dementors. We have ghosts, a-and Poltergeists. We have Inferi. Thestrals, and Succubae and Incubi. We have the literal concept of death, and an afterlife. But here, there’s so much… more. And I guess… I guess new rules apply.”
Her anger stripped away from her, she saw the confusion in his expression. No, not confusion, it was something else.
Regret? Resignation? Having spent her entire life dealing with her emotions, real tangible bodies that represented each feeling that communicated with each other, she had trouble reading him.
“What does that mean?” Her feet planted in the ground, her face no longer in the shadows, and her fate seemingly in his hands, she never felt so much like a vulnerable, fifteen-year old girl. “What the hell does that have anything with what you’re doing to me?”
Words escaped him. He didn’t know what to tell her. It was just this morning when Fleur told him, and he didn’t even have time to process it, to fully understand the scope of what he was being told at the time.
If it wasn’t for his impeccable memory, he would have already forgotten it, and he literally would not have known what to tell her.
Hermione had obtained the last hallow, right before he went through the veil. It was thanks to the Elder Wand – the deathstick – that he, and Hermione, were alive today.
It was because of that, he had found himself, and Hermione, the Masters of Death. And everything that came with that.
He had no idea how it was going to sound, but he tried it anyway. “I control death. It has no hold over me. If I truly want someone dead, I can call it and claim it. Death bows before me. So if there’s a God of Death here, then I am the contradiction.” That sounded legible. He didn’t know if any of it was true or not, of course, but it made sense to him, through his readings of the subject. Which, admittedly, wasn’t much. “You were born of death incarnate. You’re the creation of the devil. A Princess of Death.”
As morbid as the thought was, and as untimely as it was, Harry entertained the notion of the existence of a Master of Magic, just as he himself was the Master of Death. Merlin? Le Fay? Probably chaos incarnate, chosen to be his rival for all eternity.
“That’s why you can’t hurt me. That’s why your head hurt when you rebelled.” But it still didn’t explain the initial pain when they saw each other the first time, and what happened in the prison.
Recognition crossed her face. She knew. “Speak. Tell me what you know.”
“I know where you are. I feel your presence. Always, and when you spoke to us, I felt you were there before you turned around.”
That was… concerning.
“Go,” he whispered, and he sighed. “I just needed you to hear that. I don’t plan on doing that to you again. Unless you decide to attack me and mine. This isn’t your fight. Don’t call for your friends. Don’t try to attack me. Just… please… bow out.”
Her body moved, but she didn’t step towards him. She was cautious; he didn’t hand her freedom, he let her borrow it. Her hands tensed. It was an odd emotion. Anger was locked out, it just wasn’t available to her anymore.
It was a blessing. It was the one thing that kept her from control of her powers. Her rage was the most powerful emotion she had in her meditation space, and now that it wasn’t against her…
The possibilities were overwhelming.
Harry held up his hands – like he would have needed them to do anything to her, she thought – and backed away. “Zatanna is safe. I promise. Bruce took my friend, and I would like him returned to me. That’s all I want. Fair is fair. One for another. We’ll talk later.” He blinked rapidly, tilting his head to the side, unfocused eyes looking right past her. He did something with his hands, and –
– and something happened. An entire conversation passed between the two in that split second. They understood each other. “Goodbye, Raven.”
The only warning he got was a faint whistle, before there was a giant CRACK against his spine.
He froze, paralyzed. A gasp of surprise escaped him, and he collapsed to the ground.
Raven stood before him, blinking in surprise. “What the – ?”
And then she saw him.
His wings expansive, something she had only heard legends about but never seen in action, The caped vigilante was gliding towards the building in menacing form, and he slid smoothly along the gravel until he took a knee.
“I’ll take it from here.” He moved forward, and she didn’t think she was ever so smooth in the air as he did walking. “Raven. Diana told me about you. Good work.”
She couldn’t, for the life of her, tell if he was being serious or sarcastic. When he disregarded her, removing a pair of sleek black cuffs from somewhere in the heavy-looking belt, she realized that he hadn’t heard their conversation.
“Where’s Zatanna?” He asked, not looking back. That confirmed her suspicions.
“He has her,” she admitted slowly. “He took her someplace. He wants to exchange her for his friend.”
He reached down and grabbed the earpiece off of the fallen teen. “No deal,” he muttered into the earpiece, and before he could even hear if anyone was listening, he squeezed, crushing the connection.
Harley winced at the feedback, pausing long enough to consider what to do next. “Ivy! Where are you?!”
“I heard,” was her reply, and Harley didn’t allow herself to be swept away by small miracles. She desperately needed a big one. “I’m on my way to them. They’re not getting away from me.”
“Hurry,” she whispered, and just sat there, and waited.
She fucking hated it, but she knew one of them had to stay back, if only to keep the order.
It wasn’t lost on her that they left it to the one who was the least in control.
She had taken the chair that Ivy had vacated, and her girlfriend was currently out at the prison, freeing the prisoners from the shipping containers that the witches had dumped them into, while Harry tried his damnedest to distract said witches.
The girl was still bound in rope, asleep in the corner. She was cute when she was sleeping, and not angry.
Everything had been going fine, until Batman was seen in one of the monitors. She had warned Harry and Ivy. At least, she tried to. Batman was aiming his gun from on top of a search tower, aimed directly at Harry’s back. She yelled at him to watch out. But she was too late. The video feed must have lagged.
“They’re… I don’t see them.” She could hear the panic in the edges of Ivy’s voice. Even in direct danger, her voice never wavered. “I was secondsaway! Where are they? I can’t find a trace!”
“I… I… maybe he’ll get out of it.”
“I know he will. He can’t contain him.” She sounded so resolute in her conviction. If she was trying to make up for the absence of her confidence before, she was doing a good job at it. “But we’re getting him back. Whatever it takes.”
“Of course,” she muttered, her eyes closed. “Even if we have to walk up to the Manor.”
A breeze tickled at her hair, and she swiveled around.
Raven, her purple hair in waves, peered at her with curious violet eyes. In her right hand, the arm of one grinning Harry Potter who peered back at her, as if she didn’t look like she was about to fucking cry.
In her left hand, she gripped the cape of the unconscious body of the Batman, lain at her feet.
Now, the jester was really about to cry. “What the fuck!?”
She didn’t really care for an answer. Her feet sent her into his open arms anyway, and he kissed her forehead as she hugged him.
Her chin resting on his shoulder, she could see the purple-skinned girl rush over to her friend, sitting her up and smoothing her hair back.
She pulled back and eyed him curiously, not trusting herself enough to talk just yet.
“Your message,” he elaborated. “The second you told me, I did… that thing again. Stopped time.”
“Oh.” She was quiet for a second, and then she punched him in the arm. “And you let me think he kidnapped you!” She could hear Ivy’s sigh of relief on the other line.
He winced, and not at the pain in his bicep. “I couldn’t tell you. You were frozen in time. The communicator works, but you wouldn’t have heard it.” He grimaced. “My back is killing me. I think it was a rubber bullet.”
“It was.” She looked down at the prone man, ridiculous costume and all, and stepped on his chest. She stood atop the man most criminals considered their worst nightmare, and used his bat symbol strewn across his broad chest as a welcome mat. Her eyes were now level with Harry’s. “Did you get taller?”
He shrugged. “You wanna know how I did it?”
“I’m pretty sure I can figure it out.” She pointed behind him. “You froze time, told her you were going to take the hit and let his guard down. Then she’d take this bastard down and wake you up. And now you’re both here.”
Her boyfriend looked impressed at her deduction, and she rolled her eyes. “Come on, that wasn’t so hard.”
“I thought it was a good plan. I needed to be knocked out, because he can sense whether I’m conscious or not. It wasn’t really a risk if I knew he wouldn’t kill me.” He looked back at Raven, who looked back expectantly, holding up her sleeping friend in a silent plea. A deal is a deal. We really will talk later.”
She took one last look at the man she betrayed, a man she was taught to respect, but never met before, under the feet of a woman she was taught to hate, but never met before.
She looked back at the boy who held her fate in his hands. The one that made the most sense out of the three.
This really wasn’t her fight.
She nodded, and a black void circled into life (death?) behind her.
Harry gave a disarming, charming smile. It was much easier to do that when his brain wasn’t splitting apart. “I keep my promises.”
“So you claim. So you did. So you will.”
With a final nod, she backed into the portal with her rope-bound friend, and the void tucked into itself, blinking into nothingness.
Harry kissed the side of the cheek where Harley’s headset resided, and she let out a sigh she didn’t know she was holding. “Come home, Ivy. I think we’re done. Mission Success.”
“So it seems.” She chuckled on the other end. “With rewards. But I think you forgot something.”
“Someone,” Harley chided gently, and blinked innocently. “I don’t see the problem. Mission success if ya ask me. Minus a thousand points for a lost asset, but – ”
“He’s in Blüdhaven.”
The words were said at the same time, but the voice that wasn’t Harry’s was quite the surprise. Selina stood at the doorway, leaning against the frame. She and Harry stared at each other, curiously.
“And we finish the race in a tie!” Harley shouted, waving her arms in a chopping motion. “Now, for the tie-breaker. I know how you know, Harry. Selina, how in the hell did you find out?”
The Cat Burglar smirked. “Technically, I won. I’ve been watching for a while, now.” Her smirk grew, a smile both feral and delightful. “You didn’t notice me this time. You didn’t see me at all.”
That got a chuckle out of the Warlock. “So I didn’t. Raven asked for a drop-off location, and Bruce told her where I couldn’t be sent. Anywhere but Blüdhaven Penitentiary. Naturally, that had to be where Riddler should be. Then she knocked him out. Now your turn.”
“I have sources. I called in a favor.” She gave a nonchalant shrug as she approached them, inspecting the man beneath Harley’s mismatched boots. “Oh, how the mighty have fallen. This was an unexpected twist in the plans. Now, tell me; what in the possible hell could you have promised one of the Titans to make them turn on their master?”
He grinned at her choice of words. “I promised her a less moralistic master. I gave her a new look at life. Probably one she’d always considered, but never had the means, or discipline, to take it.”
Harley’s eyes widened at the implications, almost stumbling off of their newest acquisition. “Are you tellin’ me that you turned her evil?”
“No. I turned her neutral. She could be more helpful that way. She’s too powerful to be on one side or the other. Though I wouldn’t count out her involvement. It’s up to her, ultimately.”
The day was just full of small miracles, Harley acknowledged.
“I’m fortifying the wall,” Ivy told them over the coms. “I’ll pick up Crane.”
“Oh! Scarecrow. I honestly forgot about him.” Harley bit her lip. “Considering half this mission was about freeing him, that’s probably not a good thing. We never actually broke him out.”
“He’s been busy.” She could hear the amusement in her girlfriend’s voice. “He’s in the medical wing right now. He’s been making some crude replacement fear toxin. Give him a minute.”
“We’ll go pick up Eddie,” Harry muttered, gently pulling Harley against him as he directed his statement to Selina. “And then we’re all going to have a talk about these Titans. We’ll meet back at the greenhouse.”
With one wave of his hand, the body of the Dark Knight disappeared beneath Harley, and she was left hovering in the air, Harry’s arm around her back being her only support. Another wave, and they were gone, Harley’s sudden shriek of laughter echoing in the suddenly emptier room. It wasn’t a pop, exactly, like Selina was used to seeing. It was more of a fade.
Kyle shook her head at the theatrics. Muttering something about gods and demons and how she was glad she was so normal, she stepped out of the cabin, and made her way back to their base. The Greenhouse, they began calling it.
It was almost nightfall, and everyone would know the difference that set this night apart from the rest before it, ever since the caped crusader debuted.
The Warlock, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, the Cat Burglar, the Riddler and the Scarecrow. Their names would never be forgotten after tonight.
“That… reminds me. Time to pay our new mouthpiece a visit.”
‘Dear citizens of Gotham. You’ve been warned.
‘This radio broadcast will not be intercepted. This warning will not be censored. Once again, this is Vicki Vale, reporting on the latest goings-on.
‘The police will tell you one thing, but should you ever want to know the truth, come right to the source. This reporter can tell you, for one thing, that Gotham’s finest aren’t very sure of what exactly is going on, and they won’t tell you even if they knew. But we will.
‘Yes, we. This reporter has, as they say, gone rogue, down a more exciting alley of investigative journalism. I’m as undercover as undercover goes, giving you the scoop and always on the look out for more to share. I have been chosen as the correspondent for the Femme Fatale and have been given the opportunity to share with you the latest news in villainy, and messages from both sides; an olive branch, if you will. If it helps in any way, bridging the gap and working for a better Gotham, despite our notorious reputation, this reporter is the first to sign up for ambassador. It wasn’t that difficult a position for me. I have protection for what I’m doing, and the same couldn’t be said for the job I had before. Journalistic integrity may still exist, but not anymore. Not in Gotham. There’s actual control here, and on this network, you can’t ignore me. I choose to use this power for good, and you will see examples of this in the coming weeks. Decide for yourself if I’m worth my words.
‘In mere minutes, Jack Ryder, on your local Channel Seven news station, will tell you that as of now, the story developing at Blackgate is ‘in progress’, while in truth the threat has already passed, and the battle has ended. They will try to conceal the truth from you, and they have very good reason to, but here it is.
‘Gotham has never been safer than it has in years. There have been safeguards put in place to ensure such a promise. Let me preface this breaking news at that. Whether you choose to believe it, or not, is up to you.
‘Earlier today, The Warlock, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy have been spotted at Blackgate facility prison. Previously, I told you that the Warlock was arrested and detained at the prison, and Commissioner Gillian Loeb, and our impeccably ignorant Mayor Wilson Klass, refused to give him a trial or meet with the Femme Fatale. There has been no response, even now.
‘The sequence of events that followed was exactly how you think it played out. Ivy and Harley, in their own unique way of retaliation, surrounded the prison in thick vines, not unlike the pit that holds the lives of thirty-seven men in blue in the Bowery.
‘A riot ensued in the prison, followed by a massive breakout, and while I can’t give you an accurate number, it appears that more than half has escaped the notoriously understaffed and statistically insecure prison. In the breakout, The Warlock has escaped with Gotham’s most feared couple, and is now at large.
‘He sends along a message, which I will read for you: “I have branded you. Your control has been willed over to me. You will find the consequences of your actions soon enough. I believe in second chances, but you won’t live to see a third if you don’t heed my words. Stand down. Do not fight. And if you have a problem with that, then find me.”
‘An ominous message, certainly. Will you take it seriously, Gotham? Or will you foolishly wait for your third chance to roam around?
‘In other news, the newly christened ‘Catwoman’ has come forth as the thief of the priceless jade jewel, a precious mineral of unknown origin. The gem was a temporary showcase, in the final days of its world-wide tour before returning to the Metropolis Museum. While it was originally thought to be stolen by Harley Quinn according to the APB, the notorious thief Catwoman has not been silent in her inquiries for bidding, and has requested the audience of one Bruce Wayne and one Alexander Luthor. Please contact Channel Seven news if you have any information leading to her arrest.
‘And finally… there are incoming reports of a new vigilante roaming the streets, that goes by the name of Black Robin. His sudden presence in Gotham, while not unwelcome, has come as a bit of a surprise. Established professionals of the craft have been taken in and dealt with, and you stand alone, in a fight against the un-fight-able. My new job description requires me to tell you that what you are doing is unwise, but honestly… if more people were brave like you, then maybe we wouldn’t be where we were today, making our choices and choosing sides. While the rest of us are choosing who to follow, you decided to lead. I hope you’re ready for the responsibility that burdens you now. This reporter has it on good authority that this won’t be a night you’ll forget anytime soon. Don’t expect help.
‘This is Vicki Vale, signing off. Goodnight, Gotham. I hope. ’
Meanwhile, a realm was disturbed. Several realms, actually, existing as one and as all. A fully-functioning, simultaneous multi-verse in a single existence.
“It happened again.”
She looked up, her pale features covered by her ebony hair. “Hm? What’s up?”
“Your master. He’s manipulating fate again.”
She harrumphed at the term. “Don’t speak of what you can’t possibly know.”
“Do you believe anything to be out of my realm of knowledge?”
“This one is wrong.”
“It’s not. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been as accurate. I feel a draw to him as well. But he was made for you to serve.”
She rolled her eyes, thankful for the long hair, covering her smirk. “Sure. Whatever. Just… leave already.”
“Even Death has a fate. You can’t escape your destiny, you know.”
Deep in the realms of the Endless, the attractive gothic stared hard at her brother, Destiny. “I have not been summoned. Death will come for Harry Potter. And if he leaves before he knows – and I doubt we have crossed paths before – then I have no reason to cross paths with him. So, all-seeing brother, how long until the Veil is opened?”
He was silent for a moment. “Soon enough.” He felt she didn’t need to know that she was the one destined to open it for him.
Or that she would be joining her master in the next realm. Death would be coming for him, indeed.
She smiled. “Good. Better for the kid, anyway. Rules are rules. Be a shame for him to lose everything because he fell in love with sweet Death.” She winked at her brother, and he gave back a knowing smirk. It unsettled her.
Death bowed to no master, human or wizard or god alike. Perhaps another version of her made a deal with the Peverells, but if she could avoid servitude to a sex-crazy child, that’d be fine.
No matter how interested she was in the prospect.
Death of the Endless shivered. Destiny laughed. And had Delirium shown up, she would have thought herself sane at the mere sight of it.
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Next chapter: Raven faces her inner demons (geddit?), while The Black Robin is suddenly thrust into the spotlight.
After ‘Project Blackgate’ has abruptly turned into ‘Mission: Knightfall’, The team regroups and tries to capitalize on their initial success. But anything can happen when the Batman is around, caged or not.